Tag Archives: Entrepreneur

The Twin Towers of Truth & Trust

Unfortunately, our Country and the World has recently had to endure the commemoration of the 15th Acknowledgement of the Atrocities which occurred on September 11th. Our Hearts continue to go out to the many families who’ve had to be reminded yet again – and embrace the pain of their magnificent losses.

Perhaps like You, Lori & I watched a significant number of documentaries that retold stories of Bravery, Heroism & Self Sacrifice in various moments of crisis. Interwoven within these tales were also a growing analysis of Skepticism, Controversy & Conspiracy which explain that we do not have All the Facts, nor have we indeed been told the Entire Truth concerning this Incredible Tragedy.

Amidst the Irony of these Painful Ceremonies is the blatant, crude and destructive political campaign season we find ourselves in, where it seems that the Twin Towers of Truth & Trust have likewise been destroyed, long before a plane – or a missile – crashed into the World Trade Center.

If We are forced to Choose, for the Highest Office in our Nation, between the One Who Lies the Least, it’s no wonder why America suffers from a Deficit of Reliability Worldwide- If & When Our Government Leaders, Present & Future are Unwilling to Stand On and Speak The Truth, then it’s clear why it may take decades, or longer, to rebuild the Tower of Trust.

Furthermore, if we as individuals find it difficult to Speak Truthfully, In Love, to our neighbors, next door, at work, in church, at the mall and/or online, we emaciate the right to accuse any leader of decimating the public trust.

Truth & Trust are Towers We Must Build Together.

 

I was listening to no music while writing this blog.

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6 Reasons why Motown is its Own Genre

After 57 years of Active Progress alongside Rock, Pop, Jazz, Blues and Hip-Hop while witnessing the brutal demise of Disco, Grunge, R&B and various forms of New Wave; and even with a 10 year gap from the label’s last major release (Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & RelationshipIndia.Arie /2006), Motown may not be the Musical Institutional it once was, but it certainly remains a stellar, marketable genre most often spoken of in a category all its own.

Having digested Berry’s Official Autobiography, To Be Loved numerous times, as well as the countless other books and documentaries on The Man, The Music and The Incredible Artists, there are at least Six Invaluable Lessons EntreMusicians can Learn and Build Upon.

1) Excellent Songs. Berry, Smokey, Members of “The Corporation” and subsequent Composer/Producers placed The Song as their Number One Priority. Nothing Else Mattered. Before they Considered 10 Weeks at #1 on the Pop Charts, the Song’s Lyrics, Rhythm & Raw Emotion had to be TIMELESS…which is why Ooh, Baby Baby  will still Break Any Woman Down to This Day!

2) Flexibility. The Next Step in Targeting Timeless Material is the Ability to Flex it to Any Artist who Flips it as a Hit Again & Again. Because Motown Boasted a Roster of Excellent Artistry, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and Marvin Gaye all reaped gold from Barrett Strong & Norman Whitfield’s powerhouse “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (Not to mention everyone else from Creedance to Roger Troutman!)

3) Intense Training.Motown developed their Artists through rigorous physical & psychological training, to the Chagrin of Some and the Delight of Others. It Was School! Those who survived the process are Icons (deceased or alive). Each were Groomed, Choreographed & Positioned for Superstardom. This Acute Attention to Detail is what propelled Diana Ross & The Supremes from the Commodes of the Chitlin’ Circuit to Swanky, Glistening Upscale Showrooms.

4) The Importance of Systems. As above, The Motown Sound was a Calculated System, often utilizing the Same Musicians, Arrangers & Producers. While Other Studios and Labels of the era also employed the same model, Motown’s Approach & Techniques were culled from Gordy’s experiences at The Ford Motor Company where every worker did his/her job the same exact way, each and every time, growing more efficient & effective with each new release, thus earning Motown the well deserved moniker, “The Hit Factory.”

5) Interdepartmental Competition. Often, the Motivation that kept Motown pumping on all cylinders was not in besting outside rivals, but the internal battles that all the songwriters welcomed and championed. Let Stevie go up against The Temptations, or Edwin Starr‘s new tune arm wrestle The Marvelettes groove. They threw all the records on the table and Only the Best Song hit The Street. This kept ALL of the Artists sharp, engaged and at their best.

6) Ownership. As the Unfolding History on this National Treasure revealed, as long as ownership remained in the hands of the Original Visionary, Motown could do no wrong. But once outside investors began to chip away at the corporate shares, the Magic weakened and once the company sold, even ace architect, Smokey Robinson left the label. However, Gordy’s genius in Maintaining Majority Ownership and Control of the Publishing is exactly what Solidifies Motown’s Position as it’s Own Musical Identity, Now & Forever.

Let’s Go and Do Likewise!

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Your Song, Your Story, Your Voice

In Today’s Tumultuous Climate, with Raging Debates driving Social Media & Talk Shows and the Extraordinarily Divisive Atmosphere pervading even the smallest towns in these so called United States, it’s often easy to Ignore the Anointing available to EntreMusicians and Creatives to turn the tide.

The Inherent Power we Possess in Pointing Others toward Peace, Honor, Dignity, Unity and dare I say, the Promise of True Brotherly & Sisterly Love Does Indeed Exists, If We’d All only take a moment to Step Back, Breathe, Think, Pray & Righteously Engage.

As EntreMusicians & Artists, it’s Not Enough to Document the Current Reality, but to Prophecy of the Possibilities we all have access to as Citizens of Planet Earth.

Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Shirley Verrett, Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cooke, Joan Dresner Bernstein, Gloria Larry House, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder (whose lyrics from “As” were recently recited by Dallas Police Chief David Brown during the Memorial for the Fallen Officers) and countless others uniquely utilized their Art to Soar over Sadder Times, creating a Soundtrack of Resilience, Hope, Salt & Light to Keep Us both Grounded and Looking Up.

So what about You?

How will You employ Your Song, Your Story, Your Voice and even Your Life to Shine as a Beacon in such a tremendously dark time in our country?

Lift It Up! Let It Shine! Sing It Loud! Say It Proud and Show Us The Way!

Here is a song I Wrote with the Dynamic Lyricist & Singer, Marlon Saunders, entitled “Just Think,” produced in a more peaceful period, but relevant for Today & Tomorrow.

 

I was listening to Jeff Lorber’s “It’s Fact” on vinyl while composing this blog!

 

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POWERLESS??

SPOTIFY AND APPLE ARE AT EACH OTHER’S THROATS…, Apple in Talks to Acquire Jay Z’s Tidal“…, YOUTUBE’S DOMINANCE TAKES A BEATING“…, & The Music Industry Just Lost a Big Fight with the Government Over Royalties” are just a few recent Headlines glaring in the faces of EntreMusicians. And the New News is Spotify Tops 35m Subscribers which continues to support the David & Goliath mock-up we’ve been fed for decades.

Sure, there are Certain Things that Intimidate Us, Most of Us are NOT Millionaires.

But Are We Powerless?  Or Do We Merely Think We Are? Who Convinced Us of This?

Are we Really in No Position to Change this Music Game and Reroute Our Artistry Directly to Our Individual Friendbase while Bypassing The Current System?

Is the notion of An Independent Streaming Model Available to Each EntreMusician Intelligent Enough to Create Continual Content too Difficult to Imagine?

If a $1.99 / $2.99 Exclusive Access Tier from Our Own Individual Channels were Created & Maintained, a Far Fairer Form of Compensation, and perhaps Appreciation, of our Art would be Enjoyed. Obviously, We’d Bear Sole Responsibility for Building & Nurturing our Tribe, but the Truth is We Do This Now while Reaping No Advantages

These Are the Questions I Continue to Ask, Conversations I Constantly Engage and the Plan I AM Currently Implementing.

In Numbers 13 (OT), Moses sends out 12 Spies to Investigate the land The Lord had appointed for them To Conquer. Forty Days Later, 10 of them returned with a Thoroughly Wimpy & Faithless Answer – even confessing that they felt as small as grasshoppers amidst the citizens there and must have looked the same way to them! 

If You’d keep reading, You’d find that the other two spies, Joshua & Caleb Radically Disagreed with the 10 punks and Courageously Inspired the People to Take The Land!

Now You Can Guess Who The Lord (who is a Staunch Rewarder of Faith) Was Ultimately Pleased With…

So, Are You a Joshua or a Caleb?

Or Are YOU Powerless?

 

While I wasn’t listening to any music while composing this blog, Earlier I was digging on Ahmad Jamal’s “Blue Moon

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Systems

This Week I take a Break on My Lone Diatribe of the Current State of the Music Industry and that which I feel EntreMusicians Can/Should be Doing to Alter the Ugly Tide. As I Reflect & because I Am Quite Passionate, It seemed I was beginning to Sound like a Whining Polemic, which was/is not my intention.

My Goal here is to Engage, Encourage & Empower EntreMusicians Everywhere to Embrace their Artistry with the Highest Level of Significance & Inspiration.

To that End, Today I wish to share the Importance of Creating Systems in Your Day/Week/Life which Propel You toward Consistently Attaining New Heights in Your Career.

If You’re Anything Like Me, or the Millions of Other True Creatives, Our Souls Find Meaning in Abstracts. We tend to “Feel” More than We “Reason.” Creatives are More Apt to Be “In The Moment” than “In The Long Run.”

As a Intense Jazz Lover & a Participant in the Genre, the Sheer Intention of Improvisation is Always Intriguing and a Blessed Experience, but without the Foundation of a Steady Rhythm, Chord Patterns, Motifs & Melody, the Magic Mercurially Melts.

EntreMusicians Understand this Balance. We Incorporate Habits, Rituals & Systems into Our Days/Weeks/Lives to Provide Security for the Spontaneity. We Emphasize Structure so our Creativity Soars.

Although Creatives Understand the Disciplines that Apply to Our Craft, and subsequently Practice our Fingers Off, We Rarely Develop Regiments around Our Art to Promote, Sustain and/or Catapult Our Careers & Influence.

Here Are A Few Questions for You To Consider:

a) Do You Have a Daily/Weekly/Life “To-Do” List?

b) Do You Maintain a Morning Ritual?

c) Have You Established Boundaries on How You Spend Time in Each Sphere of Your Life?

d) Is there a Proper Balance for Personal & Professional Relationships & Goals?

e) Have You Formed a Team to Keep You Accountable to Your Aspirations?

The Way You Answer these Questions Will Help Shed Light on what You Need to Do to become More Effective & Efficient in Harnessing Your Creativity & Accomplishing What Truly Matters.

Below Are A Few Resources which have over several years helped me form Significant Systems in My Quest to Create Extraordinary Work I Pray Makes A Major Difference in the Lives My Spirit Reaches.

Time Will Tell the Ultimate Extension of My Influence, but Time Will Certainly Find Me Constantly Improving My Serve!   I Pray The Same for You!!

Michael Hyatt – My Ideal Week 

Dr. Steven Covey – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Dr. Myles Munroe – In Pursuit of Purpose

David Allen – Getting Things Done

John Maxwell – Talent is Never Enough  (Or Any Other Doggone John Maxwell Book!!)

The Bible (An Indispensable Tool in My Systematic Arsenal!)

I was not listening to any music as I Composed this Blog and am Suddenly Wondering Why!

 

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You Mean They Drilled Into His Vault??

Obviously I have waited for what I feel is a respectable amount of time to bring this topic up. And I No Way Feel a Disconnect from the Main Topic I have espoused for the last few months, beginning weeks prior to Prince’s Majestically Mysterious Departure.

I have been asking “How You Define Success,” “How Important Are You,” and slowly initiating an Obsessive “Psychology behind the Philosophy” Mantra for EntreMusicians to Rethink our Entire Dependence on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music and the Upcoming Amazon Streaming System. Irregardless of the fact that the Grammys are now considering a Brand New Category for Streaming Music, If Artists are Not Getting Paid, They’re Getting Pimped! (Tweet That!)

But I Digress…

Reflecting on The Purple One’s Intense Fight for Independence from Warners, His Mysterious Death (You Mean He was Left All Alone, All Night In That Huge Complex After Almost Dying a Week Earlier?), One of the Speediest Cremations of a Body Not Dying by Fire and to Top It All, his Private Music Vault Drilled Open Less Than 10 Days After His Death?!?!!

In Considering He was a Single Man at the time of his passing, Intensely Private and that he Left No Will, One of the Single Most Important Questions EntreMusicians Must Ask themselves is “Who Is My Advocate?” It seems that Tyka and the rest of his half-siblings, along with the Well Intentioned Shelia E, Larry Graham, Morris Day and others who knew His Royal Badness Extremely Well have to Sit on the Sidelines while an Attorney & A Record Company Executive muses through his Intellectual Property.

If  This  Doesn’t  Scare  the  Rhythm  Out  of  You,  You’re  NOT  A  Musician!

Here are a Few Questions You Should Ask & Answer before the End of this Blog:

“Does My Spouse/Significant Other Know Where My Copyright-Publishing Information Is and Can They LEGALLY Speak for Me if I am Physically/Mentally Incapacitated or am Deceased?”

“Where Is My Will and Is that Sucker Updated?”

“Do Select People I Love and Trust Have the Necessary Passwords to my BMI/ASCAP/SESAC and other Pertinent Accounts”

“Have I Explained Very Clearly My Wishes for My Musical Equipment/Software?”

 “Are My Collaborative Agreements with Other Songwriters/Band Members In WRITING and In Order?”

“Are My Trustworthy Attorney & Accountant Up to Speed on My Wishes for any Unreleased Music I Might Have?”

“Have I Backed Up My Hard Drives and Entrusted them to Safe People/Places?”

Hopefully, these are Enough to Encourage You to Become Very Intentional about the Inevitable. Taking Care of Business is Always of Ultimate Importance for the Intelligent EntreMusician.

 

I was listening to Bob James’ “Hands Down” on Vinyl while composing this post.

 

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How Important Are You…?

Face It.

You’re Only As Important as You Think You Are.

You can Either Live By & Under the Expectations & Evaluations of Others – or – You Can CHOOSE to Create & Model Your Own Principles or Ideals.

You Can Either Agree to The “Usual” Pay Scale of the Masses or CHOOSE to Negotiate Your Fee.

It’s Up To You.

Your Self Importance is the Sum Total of Your Own Thoughts, Experiences & Esteem.

Your Self Importance is Directly Tied to Your Own Vision & Goals.

You are Either One Who Sees Him/Herself as Having Very Little to No Worth – or – Someone Who Envisions Endless Possibilities. You Either Settle or You Set Out.

It’s Up To You.

Although Present Options may be Limited, Important People are Always Creating Opportunities to Change that Present Situation and Improve Their Positioning.

EntreMusicians MUST Embrace the Realization that Our Art, Music & Creativity is IMPORTANT. We Must No Longer Accept or Agree to Selling Ourselves Short and/or Out!

It’s Time To Set A Price For Our Shows & Songs that Reflect Fair, Equitable Standards which Put Money in Our Own Pockets or Refuse to Participate on Their Platforms & Stages.

Important People Know How to Say “NO.”

How Important Are You?

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The Plan in Perspective

I have a friend named Joe (real name) who started a New Gym in Youngstown Ohio 18 Months Ago. Geographically, Joe’s Gym is about 2.8 miles away from that Other, Better Established, Open 24/7, Only $10 a Month Gym that Most Everyone Frequents. Joe’s Gym is only open from 5:30am to 9:00pm, has far less equipment & space and his Monthly Memberships begins at 5x more than that other place. Yet Joe has a startling slew of clients and continues to add Specialized Sessions & Trainers to his Growing Roster.

The Secret to Joe’s Success is Joe.His Gym Provides Intentionally Focused Workouts in an Exceptional Environment that Provides Optimum Results to its Members. Joe’s Gym is called The Train Station.

I often think of Joe as I talk to Musicians and Software Developers about this Unfolding Plan I’ve proposed. In case You are Unaware, I began a Post several weeks ago concerning EntreMusicians readdressing the Direct Sales & Digital Distribution of their Art. I continued to Add Thoughts & Emotions and will continue to discuss & work with EntreMusicians to formulate a workable plan. The Conversation is Growing!

In short, I Believe that ALL EntreMusicians must utilize their ability to Stream their Content Directly to Their Own Tribes on a Subscription Basis, without the need of a Billion Dollar Corporation paying them less than a penny per stream. The Technology is Available, but must be Personalized in a format best suited for both Artist & End User. 

Dr. Nelson Harrison, a very forward thinker and founder of The Pittsburgh Jazz Network has proposed an Alternative through Millennium Music Media which I am currently checking into and awaiting a callback from a known Artist Currently on their roster.

Joe’s Success in Starting  & Growing The Train Station is in His Initiative to Customize a Service & System the Larger Gyms simply cannot and markets his personal touch accordingly, without railing against them – and Word of Mouth is growing.

Every EntreMusician Must Go and Do Likewise. The Excuses are Over. Other Options Are Available. The Ultimate Option remains in Controlling & Distributing Our Own Songs on Our Individually Owned Platforms and Doing the Hard Work of Marketing Ourselves Appropriately. That’s The Truth of Being Independent Artists.

I wasn’t playing any music while blogging, but I’ve just finished practicing the drums to the “Dreamland” CD by YellowJackets. William Kennedy, ALWAYS WOW!! 

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THE PLAN UNFOLDS…

If You Were Unable to check out last week‘s post or perhaps even the week prior, you may wish to begin there to understand the need for the New Plan…

The Problem is too well known. Music Lovers have been Conditioned to Believe that Music is (or should be) Free. The CD is Dead. The Download is Dying. Presently, Streaming is King and the Existing Platforms are controlled by Corporations earning Billions of Dollars via $9.99 Subscription Fees with music served up ‘Buffet Style’ or what Dave Kusek long ago termed “Music Like Water.” This practice is now a decade old…

BUT, to quote his Royal Purple Lateness, “The Baker ain’t makin’ No Bread!”  but The Corps are and this particular EntreMusician is long growing weary of hearing moans & groans of heroes past and present protesting, instead of rerouting the flow of their own dough.

The Plan is Simple. Systematically Remove Our Music from Places that Don’t Pay and Replace in Our Own Formats, On Our Own Platforms and Do The Hard Work of Rebuilding & Re-Educating Our Own Tribes to Gather & Party in Our Own Backyards.

Every Musician has a Website, and Every Website hosts a server which allows Us to Upload & Sell Our Media. Most Allow Us to Set Our Own Prices and since we generally pay them a fee, they do not take a Percentage of Our Earnings (Most go directly to a PayPal Account).

With that said, the technology exists for the EntreMusician to begin offering a Personalized Streaming Service. This May Sound Oversimplified. But It’s Definitely Doable.

Three Key Components are Needed to Construct the Foundation.

The First Component is Confidence. Bands, Musicians, Artists, Creatives MUST Know & Understand that Our Work is Important and Fulfills a Major Need in Life which has been earning Multi Billions since the 1970’s – but for whom? Anyone of Us who’ve taken the time to learn all of those Major 9th Chords and spent Countless Hours Practicing Counter Para-Diddles can buy a copy of Quick Books and do a little accounting! We Can Do This!

The Second is Unity. As with Any Call for Solidarity, there will be the Silence of those who Wish to Wait & See, all the while bemoaning the $0.0007 royalty check sent to them by Spotify!

The Final Component is Bloody Knuckled Hard Work. An EntreMusician is a Forward Thinking, Effective Creative with “Results” as our Main Focus! Nothing Less Will Do. Perseverance, Endurance and Sweat. The Fans Won’t Just Flock to Our Website. They Won’t Just plunk down the Micro-Payment to PayPal. BUT, If Our Music is Important Enough to Us and We Develop the Courage, Determination and Marketing Ability to Persuade, WE CAN Engage and Create Our Own Thing and Not Need to Answer to Anyone.

That’s How It Get’s Done!

Let’s Begin the Real Conversation or Quit Crying!

My Old Sony 200 Disc CD Player was spitting out the Funk at Random upstairs, while I was posting this – I was also engrossed in the Free Webinar by Dave Kusek who was interviewing Dave Cool from Bandzoogle – and I presented the question to the chat room which was asked On Air. Thanks Chelsea! 

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The Psychology beneath The Philosophy

Last week I targeted the Next Battleground facing EntreMusicians. Even this Morning, My Inbox was replete with Nasty Headlines on Google Music, YouTube & Spotify, with regard to Piracy, Royalty Fairness and the Scores of Angry Superstars upset with the status quo.

I’ve pretty much had it. I am formulating a Plan with My Team & I and  will be sharing with you in the hopes to create a dynamic which will champion Our Artistry and Recapture the Music.

Beforehand, I Must disclose the Imagery and Concepts We Are Discussing. The Plan is Not Perfect and is already rife with its share of challenges, but contains Very Necessary Components in which to Move Forward. The Process Begins Within.

  1. Absolute Fearlessness. I recently read an e-book by a certain music marketeer who bluntly stated that since the current streaming genie is out of the bottle, never to return, all artists need to quit whining and complaining and just conform, posting their music as many places as they can “for the exposure” and should be giving as much music away as they could. Mind You, His E-Book cost $5.00. EntreMusicians at Levels Must Begin Refuting this Nonsense Vigorously, although the Marketing Dollars Are Against Us. If we Truly Worked Extremely Hard – And Are United, We Can Completely Change The Game. That Little Fear Monster that just whispered to You that ‘It Can’t Be Done,’ Needs to Die the Death of Disco!           
  2. Define Your Own SuccessKnowing Your WHY is the Single Most Significant Factor of Your Entire Career and Your Life! Bob Dylan, Joan Boaz and Others began Writing & Singing for Completely Different Reasons than Lionel Richie, Stevie Nicks or You and I . Each had/has different audiences, levels of success, notoriety and platforms. Adjust Your Career Accordingly. Know EXACTLY What Your Art Is, Who Its For and Why You Occupy this Planet! Your WHY will save you from Unrealistic Expectations and – worse – Someone Else Telling You Whether or Not You’re Successful, based upon another Artist’s number of Downloads or Streams. Do YOUR WORK!                                                                                                                                                            
  3. Place Immediate Value on Your Art. While the Old Adage holds true that any item is only worth what the buyer is willing to pay, the EntreMusician is still responsible for Setting a Price. WHO Set the $0.99 price tag per download? You or Apple? Is Your Song Worth More? Who set the price splits between the Company and the Artist? Certainly Not the Artist. Have You Ever Asked Why – or More Importantly, WHY THE (MILD, GENTLE EXPLETIVE) NOT?   Yet, if You Formed Your Own Platform where You set the Price Point, perhaps lower, on some of your Art than current market price, but you were able to keep all of the pennies, how much quicker would you make and sustain a profit?                                                                                                                                                   
  4. Network. Unhealthy Competition is a tool of The Devil in the Arts. There is Someone in Your City, State, Genre and Demographic who is doing the Exact Same Thing You Are. Build a Mastermind Group, Form an Association or Guild. Target the Promoters, Venues and Agents in Your Area who are Unfair to Musicians and Collectively Avoid Them. Create Platforms that Engage Your Fans on Alternate Levels. Create Your Own Festivals and Invite Bands of Similar Style, Principles & Values. Work Together! Play Together! Sing & Dance Together!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The premise of My Team’s Plan stands on these four tenets, plus another component I will discuss next week. Currently we are setting up a new website, theentremusician.com which will be up and running in about two weeks and we can begin this work together. I trust I presented thought provoking situations to engage you in the conversation. Let’s create a dialogue to further think through these and other initiatives as they arrive.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Let’s Change The World!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               I was Listening To Azymuth’s “Cascades” on Vinyl while creating this post.
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